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In Photos: Egypt’s Ramadan in Decades Past

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In Photos: Egypt’s Ramadan in Decades Past

March 1957 in El Mosawar Magazine. Photo courtesy of El Mosawar magazine courtesy of Ahram Online.

Ramadan is a month of tradition, cultural and religious celebration in Egypt where spirits are high, the most delicious of Egyptian delicacies are served, and community is most important.

While for many, the same community togetherness isn’t possible due to the pandemic, those who are nostalgic have been looking back at how their ancestors celebrated this holy occasion.

With Ramadan decorations, including fawanees (lanterns), streamers, and dangling lights, one may notice that despite the fact that everything has changed, in Ramadan things tend to still look the same.

The iftar cannon towering over Cairo with the pyramids visible in the background. The cannon fires every day of Ramadan to announce that it is time for Maghrib prayer, indicating the time of Iftar, or the breaking of the fast. Date unknown. Photo courtesy of Cairo 360.
Ma’edat-Al-Rahman in Egypt. Photo courtesy of Daily News Egypt.
Store selling Ramadan Lanterns (Fawanees) in 1875. Photo courtesy of Ahl Misr Zaman.
Photo of a lanterns store and a traditional Qahwa in 1890. Photo courtesy of Ahl Misr Zaman.
Lanterns and decorations at the entrance of The Azbakeya Garden in 1893. Photo courtesy of Ahl Misr Zaman.
An Egypt souq adorned with Ramadan decorations; visible Fawanees (lanterns), khayameyah tents, and moon decorations selling Kunefe and Katayef. Date estimated around 1900. Photo courtesy of Ahl Misr Zaman.
Stores selling and making Ramadan lanterns in 1902 in Cairo. Photo courtesy of Ahl Misr Zaman.
The Moon Sighting of Ramadan with the naked eye in 1934. Photo courtesy of Toraseyat.
Store creating and selling Ramadan lanterns in 1939. Photo courtesy of Ahl Misr Zaman.
Snapshot from a 1943 newspaper with a photo from Ras El Barr where the Mesaharaty (a man who calls in the street to wake people up for Suhoor) holds a drum and a lantern. Photo courtesy of Ahram Online.
Photo from Almosawar magazine in 1944 portraying the Ramadan lanterns style of the time. Photo courtesy of Ahram Online via Almosawar.
Sheikh Mustafa Ismail from the Laylat Al Qadr celebration with attendance of King Farouk in 1947. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.
The Mesaharaty of the town with a large drum he uses to wake up those asleep during Suhoor in 1949. Photo courtesy of Ahram Online.
The state ceremony announcing the beginning of Ramadan in 1971 under a Khayameyya. Photo courtesy of Ahram Online.

From the traditional Khayameyya, to Maedat El Raahman, to the Fanoos, the worship, and the delicious food, there is little that is different about Ramadan today, with some temporary obstacles due to COVID-19. Ramadan Kareem from Egyptian Streets!

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@noranmorsi

Arts & Culture Reporter. Writer and multidisciplinary artist with a passion for podcasting and theatre. Pre-pandemic, can be spotted getting work done from a Cairo coffee shop, train in Delhi or a New York subway. Intra-pandemic, works at a sunny window with lots of iced coffee.

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